A Homegrown Thanksgiving Cocktail: The Old Sage
For as long as I can remember — at least as long as I’ve lived on my own, and especially since moving back to Kansas City almost a decade ago — Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. That’s partially due to the fact that I love hosting big dinner parties for which I’m not required to do all of the cooking, and mostly because it’s a holiday that doesn’t involve religion or shitty gifts everyone buys out of some obligation to buy all the things. And as long as you don’t have a creepy uncle with a drinking problem, dinner parties and holidays are generally more fun with cocktails.
My favorite cocktail to make this time of year is The Old Sage, which has a hint and scent of sage. That’s thanks to a super-easy sage simple syrup that gets mixed with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, and the slightly-spicy Peychaud’s Bitters.
And if you’re freaking out about the fact that sage may very well be all sold out at the grocery stores by now, just go creep around in your neighbor’s yard. Or, you know, ask first. Because chances are good it’s growing somewhere near your home or work. I know this because since having a kid two years ago, my husband and I have (hopefully temporarily) abandoned the garden in our East Brookside yard, but goddammit if our sage plant hasn’t survived and thrived on its own anyway.
Apparently, Kansas City is the perfect place to grow sage. Or it’s just resilient as fuck and can grow under any conditions. Either way, you’re bound to find sage in a yard near you. Once you do, I suggest making the syrup as soon as possible, so it has time to chill completely in the fridge before Thanksgiving.
THE OLD SAGE
2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
2 ounces lemon juice
1½ ounces sage simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon slice for garnish
Sage leaf or sprig for garnish
To make the sage simple syrup, combine 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup of loosely-packed fresh sage leaves (I like to tear or bruise them a bit to release the oils) in a saucepan over high heat. Mix well, and as soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain out the sage leaves and store in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To assemble the cocktail, add the Old Overholt, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with a handful of ice cubes or one large cube. Garnish with the lemon and sage, and enjoy!